Omar Al Raisi is the team liaison officer for Iraq during the U17 World Cup. He will report on their activities and impressions during the tournament.
Mathematically, Iraq can still qualify for the last 16 if they beat Nigeria with a difference of two goals and Sweden defeat Mexico by two or more goals and results in other groups go their way. However, hopes are not very high in the camp and the team are approaching the game with the attitude that they have nothing to lose.
After Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat against Mexico, the Iraqi team manager and coach were furious in the dressing room because Mexico’s manager did not shake the hand of his Iraq counterpart, Mwafaq Adlool, before or after the match.
Ali Hadi, Iraq’s team manager, made a verbal complaint to Fifa officials after the game. He also made his disappointment clear to the Mexican delegation.
Then, Raul Gutierrez, the Mexico manager, came over to the Iraq dressing room and both coaches spoke to each other with the help of translators.
“We are Muslims, and for us to offer a handshake is to offer peace upon you. This is football, someday we win, someday we lose, but we should always respect each other as colleagues” Adlool said to Gutierrez.
“I waited for you before the game, you did not show up, I waited for you after the final whistle, you did not show up again.”
The Mexican delegation immediately offered their apologies,
Gutierrez said: “I would like to sincerely apologise to you and your team. It was not my intention to not offer you a handshake. This is also not in our culture. We Mexicans greet each other with handshake as a sign of respect.
“This games was a must win for both of us and I was so [wrapped up] in the preparation, I forgot about the handshake. After the final whistle I was full of excitement and the whole team was celebrating and I forgot again.
“Please forgive me and I am very sorry and I apologise.”
The coaches reconciled their differences and wished each other’s team success for this tournament and finally shook hands in the dressing room and shared a hug.
The day after the Mexico game, the team moved to Dubai for their third game, against Nigeria tonight.
After checking in at the Intercontinental Hotel, the squad had lunch before the first-team players stayed at the hotel to use the sauna, spa and pool while the other squad members had a full training session at Al Nasr’s ground.
A Fifa meeting was held at 11am yesterday, where Nigeria delegates were present as well.
A final 90-minute training session in the evening acted as preparation for what, barring two spectacular results, will be Iraq’s last game in the competition.
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